Man Utd have been tipped to explore exits for as many as five first-teamers in January in order to fund further arrivals, according to a report.
The Red Devils oversaw a magnificent transfer window that saw the arrival of three bona fide superstars. However, per widespread reports, Man Utd had their sights set on at least two more additions.
Kieran Trippier was persistently linked in order to provide a different dimension to Aaron Wan-Bissaka at right-back.
Central midfield also saw speculation come and go. That area of the pitch has been deemed Man Utd’s weak link by Roy Keane. The Irishman is a frequent critic of Fred and previously expressed his belief that their current options in the position will prevent Man Utd from lifting the Premier League title.
Nonetheless, the Manchester Evening News suggest January arrivals are not out of the question. But in order to balance the books, as many as five first-teamers could be axed.
The first and most ‘obvious’ name on that list is Phil Jones. The centre-back, 29, has not played a competitive match for Man Utd since January, 2020. Raphael Varane’s arrival has pushed him another notch down the pecking order and Man Utd were willing to sever ties this summer.
No takers were ultimately found, but he might not be the only centre-half moved on in winter.
Eric Bailly is also namechecked despite signing a new contract earlier this year. One school of thought suggests that deal was pushed through to protect his market value ahead of a future sale.
Midfield duo Nemanja Matic and Donny Van de Beek are also listed.
The pair are at opposite ends of their careers, but neither appear likely to displace the likes of Fred, Scott McTominay or Paul Pogba at the heart of Solskjaer’s midfield. Van de Beek was seemingly on the verge of joining Everton on loan this summer.
The final name rounding out the list is Jesse Lingard. The 28-year-old forward was priced out of a move through the club’s £25m valuation. But in the final year of his contract, Man Utd may relax their demands in January to avoid losing him for free next year.
EXCLUSIVE: Ronaldo return gives Man Utd three issues
Meanwhile, the return of Cristiano Ronaldo to Manchester United is not guaranteed to improve Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team and actually causes the Red Devils one or two unwanted headaches.
That’s the verdict of Steve McManaman, who believes the jury is out on whether 36-year-old can transform United into title contenders. McManaman reckons Solskjaer will have to change the way his team play to adapt to the arrival of the Portuguese superstar.
“Ronaldo coming back, the glamour of it all, is great for the Premier League. But we have to wait and see if it works for him or United,” McManaman told us, in an exclusive interview at a BT Sport event.
“We will have to see how he sets up and how he fits into the style of play, whether he gets in the way of anyone else at United. We are waiting to see how it all pans out.
“Will he help their starting eleven? We wait to see. You can’t say for certain he will right now.”
“They will probably have to change the way they play slightly. He might stifle Mason Greenwood or Marcus Rashford, but it’s great that he is back in England. Everyone is excited to see what happens.”